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Prayer For The Government

01/07/2021 02:19:15 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Pray, urged Rabbi Haninah, “b’shloma shel malchut -- for the welfare of the government –  for were it not for fear of it, human beings would eat each other alive” (Pirkei Avot 3:2).

Our sages interpreted the word government -  “malchut” – broadly. It refers not to one person or party or dynasty, but rather to all people who work to make government function smoothly.

Our commentators elaborated on this comment from by Rabbi Haninah by referring back to the prophet Habakuk, who reflected on humanity by saying, “Ta’aseh adam k’dgei ha’yam. You have made humans like the fish of the sea” (Habukuk 1:14). We interpret this to mean that just as big fish in the sea eat little fish, so will stronger people dominate and subjugate (and eat?) weaker people. (Our tradition is very blunt in its assessment of human nature!)

We have seen this week the utter travesty of what can happen when people – including the most powerful and privileged – refuse to honor national institutions.  So, yes, we pray for the welfare of our government, but we do not merely pray. We also take great care to align ourselves not with any particular political party (something George Washington warned about in his farewell address) but with the laws, norms, and institutions that help America reach its greatest potential.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jeffrey Weill

Tue, August 3 2021 25 Av 5781